Women's Cross Country
Spartan Cross Country Posts Strong Finish At NCAA Championships
Nov. 20, 2006
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Spartan men's and women's cross country teams participated in the Division I NCAA Championship Meet hosted by Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Ind., on Monday where the No. 4 Michigan State women captured a 12th-place finish on the 6,000-meter course, and the No. 27 men's squad finished 17th on the 10,000-meter course. Alissa McKaig was the top finisher on the women's side with a 10th-place time of 21:06.7, while Justin Zanotti paced the Spartan men, finishing in 97th place overall with a time of 32:35.7. McKaig and Michelle Rafferty, who finished in a time of 21:23.1, received All-American accolades for their performance at the championship meet.
"Both of our team's had phenomenal races today," MSU Director of Cross Country and Track and Field Walt Drenth said. "We finished 30th on the women's side last year and obviously saw considerable improvement, and our men failed to qualify a year ago and we finished 17th today in a very strong field. As a coaching staff we have stressed throughout the season the importance of making progress through steps - today was a huge step for our programs. Our performance shows we are running well at the right time of the year."
McKaig has been the top Spartan finisher in every meet this season, while Rafferty entered Monday's meet with two second-place finishes this year. It marks the first time the Spartan women have had multiple All-Americans since the 1981 season (Anne Pewe, Jill Washburn, Karen Campbell-Lutzke).
"Alissa (McKaig) ran a great race today," Drenth said. "Despite being a sophomore, she really raced liked a seasoned veteran. This was a great experience at the national level for Alissa and she will continue to get better throughout her career.
"Michelle (Rafferty) also ran a fantastic race," he added. "We've been telling her all year to be more assertive and she would have a chance to garner All-American status. She really followed her race plan perfectly and earned that spot. It was a pleasure to watch her compete today."
Zanotti and fellow senior Matt Bartlebaugh (103rd, 32:38.0) were the top-two finishers on the men's side for MSU. Both former walk-on student-athletes, the duo finished with just six places between them and are a great example of sacrifice, hard work, and dedication.
"I am so proud of Justin (Zanotti) and Matt (Bartlebaugh), and the amazing example they made today for the rest of our team," Drenth commented. "They both stayed very poised and patient, and stuck to their race plan to post great finishes. Early on they were buried in the pack, but they stayed confident and ran by many people to become our leaders. For the men to finish in the top 20 is a great testament to the hard work, willingness to sacrifice, and expectations of the Spartan cross country program."
The trio of Stephan Shay (108th, 32:59.2), Adam Sprangel (109th, 32:59.2), and Dustin Voss (145th, 33:01.8) all finished within four spots of each other and contributed strong performances for the Green and White. Nick Katsefaras (33:05.7) and David Bills (33:57.5) also competed for MSU in the event, finishing in 120th and 177th place, respectively.
Stanford won the women's race with a total of 195 points, while Colorado (223) and fellow Big Ten competitor Michigan round out the top three spots on the women's side. Colorado captured the team title on the men's side with 94 points in the event, while Wisconsin (142), and Iona (172) took second and third, respectively.
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